Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less. Everyone is a leader – from the stay-at-home mom, to the elected government official, to the big brother/sister, to the CEO. Leadership ability determines a person’s level of effectiveness. The collective leadership ability within an organization determines that organization’s effectiveness. The stronger the leadership, the greater the effectiveness. Leadership ability – for better or worse – always determines your effectiveness and the potential impact you can have on those around you and your organization.
A great example of this is the story of the McDonald’s Corporation. The original founders in 1937, were Dick & Maurice McDonald. They had a vision for speedy, economical hamburgers with a drive-up window capability. Unfortunately, their vision, as well as their leadership ability, never enabled their restaurants to expand to more than a few outlets. Eventually (in 1955), they sold their business to Ray Kroc, a business man with a much greater vision and leadership ability. By 1998, McDonald’s had expanded to 21,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries. His strong leadership allowed the corporation to grow exponentially.
Personal success without servant leadership brings only limited effectiveness. It is temporal. A person’s impact is only a fraction of what it could be with good leadership. It takes true servant leadership to make lasting impact, to leave an enduring legacy. The more you hope to achieve, the more you are going to need good leadership skills, for yourself and for your organization. The greater the impact you want to make, the greater your influence needs to be. Whatever you will accomplish in life is restricted by your ability to lead and influence others.
Leadership ability is always the limit on both personal and organizational effectiveness. Personal and organizational effectiveness is proportionate to the strength of leadership ability present. Look around you. There are plenty of examples where you can find smart, talented, successful people who are able to go only so far because of the limitations of their leadership ability. You can find plenty of churches located in wealthy, growing areas that are dying a slow death. In times of trouble, many organizations look for new leadership. When a country is experiencing hard times, it elects a new president. When a company is losing money, it hires a new CEO. When a sports team keeps losing, it looks for a new coach. And when a church is floundering, it searches for a new senior pastor. The good news is that getting rid of the leader isn’t the only way.
If leadership is strong, the limit is high. You can break through the limitations on yourself or your organization by improving the leadership skills present. The principles of leadership are immutable, they never change. They have existed for thousands of years. They can be studied and learned. They can be mastered through application.